It’s a 150 billion dollar industry. Every year, children and youth are coerced into labor and sex trafficking, globally and in the United States. The trauma experienced from trafficking has a devastating impact on the lives of these victims, affecting personal development. They suffer from decreased mental health wellness, challenged self-identity, PTSD and drug addiction.
Indicators of Human Trafficking
Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking.
Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
Has a child stopped attending school?
Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?
Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
Predators and human traffickers can gain access to victims online because people are not always aware of how dangerous online environments can be or how to keep themselves safe. While the Internet is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family, predators oftentimes take advantage of this and actively stalk online meeting places such as chat rooms and social media sites to lure their victims.
Below are several safety tips to keep in mind while surfing the web and using social media:
Never share pictures of yourself online that you wouldn’t want to be seen by your family, teachers, or a total stranger.
Set user profile to private so only real friends can get access. Know who you’re chatting with – a “friend” is not always a friend.
Treat people online as you would in person: be polite!
Don’t share personal information online such as your full name, school, address or phone number, or user passwords.
Don’t meet up in person with anyone you met online.
Report suspected abuse to law enforcement or a trusted adult.
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